A world is simply a life-sustaining environment of some kind or other. In the long run, the law of entropy spells the end of any world; the question – as with a human life – is how long, fecund and full that run proves to be. In recent years, during which human activity has come to sap the ecological basis of our world here on Earth – with no collective agency capable of reckoning with the fact yet on the horizon – we have seen renewed interest and investment in deep-space exploration and an overall interest in other worlds.
For some – including many artists and down-to-earth activists – this appetite for the stars is sheer lunacy; worse, it is a reprehensible misallocation of resources and distraction from the hugely pressing problems facing our world here on Earth, indeed the caprice of the very “1%” whose activities have so imperilled our terrestrial environment. For others, though, it is still greater lunacy to leave the monopoly on outer space exploration, and the imaginary and reality it entails, to those who seem to have reconciled themselves to the collapse of our Earth’s ecosystems.
This conversation bringing together practitioners from Plausible Artworlds and from MOCAM (Museum of Contemporary Art on the Moon) is less about comparing or contrasting rival lunacies than seeing where they meet:
By speculatively establishing a contemporary art institution on the Moon, MOCAM reframes the question at the heart of Plausible Artworlds as to the definition of an art-sustaining environment, perhaps suggesting that the lack of atmosphere on the lunar surface allows us to evacuate a whole host of assumptions about what an artworld, and beyond that a lifeworld, actually is.
Doomsaying may be as defeatist as fantasy (accepting collapsing ecosystems and dreams of shooting off into the heavens are two of a kind), yet it is surely no coincidence that prospects of establishing a human settlement on Mars with a probable staging platform on the moon comes at a time of growing awareness about the irreversible consequences of climate change on Earth. In fact, some might argue that any truly plausible protection of our environment compels us to envisage not only a multi-world planet but multi-planetary worlds.
Could it be that increased interest in alternative worlds (including artworlds) shares a common horizon of motivation with the desire for deep space?
The question, in other words, is not so much whether a lunar artworld is plausible or not, as whether the current terrestrial one makes any sense at all…